There are over 7,000 languages spoken on Earth today. With that sheer number of tongues, there has to be some pretty wide diversity, right?
Definitely right. Below are 10 of the most interesting languages on planet Earth.
Archi is a language only spoken in one village in Russia on the edge of the Caspian Sea. Its unique feature is that each verb can have up to 1.5 million conjugations. So, you might say I run, I ran, I will run, and so on, but an Archi speaker can do that up to 1.5 million times.
The Pawnee language comes from the American Indians from Nebraska. It is notable for having only nine syllables and eight vowels, but multiple words that contain more than 30 syllables. Sadly, the Pawnee language is fast disappearing as the younger people decide to speak English, instead.
This language has probably the worst name to be pronounced in English – it sounds exactly like the words “Beer Whore.” This language comes from the Indian state of Jharkhand, and belongs to a group of nomadic people. However, this language is in trouble as well, as the Birhor people freely use languages prevalent in the areas they move through and send their children to English-speaking boarding schools.
This is one language on this list that we know absolutely nothing about. Nobody has set foot on the island (and survived) due to the residents’ strict foreign policy – kill every single foreigner. The best guess anyone can come up with is that it is similar to the nearby Andamanese languages, which are odd in themselves – their nouns are all based on body parts.
Silbo, a language from La Gomera on the coast of Spain, is widely known for its oddity and beauty – it is a whistle language. La Gomera is a mountainous area, so whistles allow the speakers to communicate over large distances, even through gorges and valleys that would distort a spoken language.
This is the simplest language known to exist (and is the last of its kind – all related languages have disappeared already). It only has 10 to 12 sounds, no words for colors (except two for “light” and “dark”), two words for numbers (one indicating a small amount, one indicating a large amount) and often is communicated through hums or whistles to communicate a tone.
Following the simplest language on this list, meet the most complex – this language has more spoken sounds than any other language. The number of consonants alone is around 164, with at least 111 of those being clicks, and the meaning of any word can change with the intonation. Locals refer to it as Taa ?aan, which means “Language of humans.”
Tuyuca comes to us from the indigenous people of Colombia, spoken by less than 1,000 people. Sentences are formed by creating complex words from smaller words, and it has 140 different genders.
This, by the way, does not specifically deal with human genders. These are linguistic genders – most languages only have two or three: male, female, and neuter (he, she, it). There is one that refers to “bark that does not cling closely to a tree,” which can apply to bark, but also baggy pants.
Also, Tuyuca requires verb-endings to show how a speaker knows something – there’s one that means you know it because you saw it, and another that means you only assume.
The Kallawaya language can be traced all the way back to the pre-Inca period. The Kallawaya people are known widely as healers – they were performing brain surgery as early as 700 AD, and saved thousands of lives during the construction of the Panama Canal.
As of 2010, Chulym was only spoken by 44 native speakers in central Siberia. The word “Chulym” is actually a Russian name stemming from the river along which the people live. The people refer to themselves and their language as Ös, meaning “self” or “own.” Sadly, this language used to be widely spoken, but following waves of colonization and hostility by the Turks and the Russians, the language has shrunk and dwindled to near-nothing.